Brittany Patterson

Energy and Environment Reporter

Brittany Patterson is the energy and environment reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting and the Ohio Valley ReSource. A native of northern California, Brittany comes to West Virginia from Washington, D.C., where she spent three years covering public lands and climate change for E&E News, an outlet that's widely considered required reading for energy and environment professionals.

She covers a broad range of topics including the oil and gas industry, coal industry, utilities, conservation, water quality issues and climate change across West Virginia and the Ohio Valley.

Brittany earned her bachelor’s degree from San Jose State University and her master's from U.C. Berkeley, both in journalism. Her work has been published in Scientific American, E&E News, TheAtlantic.com, Mother Jones, KQED, Earth Island Journal, Verily, and Refinery 29.

When not reporting the news, you can find her baking, hiking or cuddling with her 85-pound American bulldog, Cooper.

Ways to Connect

Pipe ready for construction.
Seth Perlman / Associated Press

A top lobbyist for a major natural gas pipeline outlined a series of priorities to West Virginia lawmakers Tuesday, which included calling on the Legislature sign a resolution condemning "rogue environmental groups."

"I think it's important for West Virginia to go on record that the end result of their tactics hurt the state economy of West Virginia," Dominion Energy’s West Virginia State Policy Director Bob Orndorff said in an address to the Joint Committee on Natural Gas Development. "That's important, for the pipeline industry to have that type of support from the West Virginia Legislature."

Office of the WV Governor, via Flickr

A federal judge today ruled that a coal company controlled by Gov. Jim Justice’s family must turn over financial information and make its employees available for questioning.

Shayla Klein and Brittany Patterson / West Virginia Public Broacasting

For our first installment of Wild, Wondering West Virginia, we tackled a question about West Virginia’s origins. Listener Nancy Taylor wanted to know what West Virginia was like during the ice age and whether the ancient time shaped the Mountain State’s topography.

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

For many people the holidays signal the start of a joyous time — snow season. It means strapping on skis or hopping onto a sled to tear into soft, fluffy powder.

That’s the case for Greg Corio, who for almost two decades has been an avid ice climber.

"The only way to describe it is it’s magical," said Corio. "There’s so many features, and so many details and little knobs and little pieces and dripping water as you’re climbing up it. It’s like climbing up the side of Magic Kingdom’s castle.”

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

A geology professor and music professor spent four years together traveling through West Virginia thinking about rocks. Their journey is documented a new book released this year titled "Roadside Geology of West Virginia." Energy and environment reporter Brittany Patterson recently sat down with the authors, WVU music professor emeritus Christopher Wilkinson and geologist Joe Lebold, to learn more about how geology has shaped the Mountain State and why this unlikely duo wanted to write about it.

Downed trees mark the route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Deerfield, Va., Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. Work is progressing on clearing a path for the pipeline.
Steve Helber / Associated Press file photo

A federal court today ruled the U.S. Forest Service improperly granted permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross under national forest lands, including the Appalachian Trail.

Senator Joe Manchin will become the Democrats' top member on the Senate committee devoted to energy issues.

Pipeline awaits construction.
SETH PERLMAN / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Atlantic Coast Pipeline developer Dominion Energy stopped construction Friday along the multi-billion dollar natural gas pipeline's entire 600-mile route.

In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Dominion said it was halting construction following a Friday decision from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Mine Workers Sue Federal Regulators Over Controversial Mine Safety Decision

Dec 5, 2018
This MSHA inspection photograph shows where Affinity mine shuttle operator John Myles was killed in 2013.
MSHA

The United Mine Workers of America is suing the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, or MSHA, after the agency reduced its heightened oversight of a West Virginia coal mine with a poor safety record. 

Tower for drilling horizontally into the Marcellus Shale Formation for natural gas, from Pennsylvania Route 118 in eastern Moreland Township, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, USA
Ruhrfisch [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)

 

A new report fedeal report finds developing ethane storage in Appalachia could provide a boost for the entire petrochemical industry.

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

More than 100 people braved freezing temperatures to both listen and have their say in front of Ohio environmental officials at a recent hearing in Belmont County, Ohio. For the three dozen or so people who testified, the stakes were high.

climate change WVU College of Law
Brittany Patterson / WVPB

Teachers, scientists, longtime climate change communicators and others gathered Saturday at West Virginia University’s College of Law to talk about one of the greatest threats facing the world: climate change.

The theme of the 7th National Energy Conference centered on climate change communication. Speakers and attendees acknowledged that invoking the topic can be especially challenging in West Virginia because of the state’s history with coal.

 

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

 

11/20/2018 8:55 p.m.: This story was updated with information from Diversified. 

 

The West Virginia Surface Owners Rights Organization is asking state environmental regulators for a hearing to discuss a proposed transfer of more than 3,800 oil and gas wells located across West Virginia.

 


 

Mountaintop removal site at Kayford Mountain, West Virginia.
Kate Wellington / Flickr

A coalition of environmental groups are suing to stop a mountaintop removal coal mining operation in Raleigh County.
 

In the lawsuit filed Friday, Coal River Mountain Watch, Appalachian Voices and the Sierra Club allege mine operator Republic Energy is illegally operating on the more than 2,000-acre Eagle No. 2 surface mine.

 


Brittany Patterson

When Jennie and Brian Kahly decided to move to a 150-acre family farm in West Virginia’s Preston County, they thought a lot about what type of farmers they wanted to be.

“We went ahead and made a list of values, and one of those values was to minimize our fossil fuel use,” Jennie said. “That doesn't mean we don't use fossil fuels. It means we make a conscious effort to minimize them.”

Installing solar panels was high on their wish list. After two years of planning, this fall Possum Tail Farm began running on sunshine.

Bernard McNamee
U.S. Senate

The Trump administration’s nominee for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission faced tough questions from lawmakers Thursday. It was over whether the longtime energy lawyer could impartially serve at the agency after helping the administration craft its coal and nuclear power plant bailout plan.

A surface mine in Letcher County, Kentucky. The reclaimed part of the mine is seeded with grass.
Reid R. Frazier / The Allegheny Front

From solar farms in Virginia to a green energy subdivision in Kentucky, a new report by a group of regional advocacy organizations highlights 20 ready-made projects across the Ohio Valley that could give abandoned mining operations that were never cleaned up a second life, and create new economic opportunity across the region.

 

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Today is the last day to submit comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the agency’s proposed Affordable Clean Energy rule.

The so-called ACE rule is the proposed replacement for the Obama administration’s signature climate regulation, the Clean Power Plan, which sought to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by encouraging states to shift electricity generation away from coal and toward natural gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Jesse Wright / WVPB

Hundreds of people gathered at a vigil held at West Virginia University to honor the victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, and offer a message of both vigilance and healing to the Jewish community, both in Morgantown and around the world.

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

A major natural gas pipeline under construction in West Virginia and Virginia cannot continue construction under streams, rivers and wetlands across its entire 303-mile route, following the decision late last week by a federal agency.

In a letter sent Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Pittsburgh District told Mountain Valley Pipeline officials they were suspending the project's water crossings permit, also known as the Nationwide Permit 12, for Wetzel and Harrison counties. 

Brian M. Powell / Wikimedia

A major coal-fired power plant in Willow, Island West Virginia will not close in January 2019 as previous planned. Pleasants Power Station will remain open through May 2022 under a settlement agreement approved by a bankruptcy court last month.

Town of Berkeley Springs, Morgan County looking south; CNB Bank (left) and The Country Inn (right). Photo taken on June 3, 2018.
Robert Madison / Courtesy Photo

Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, the U.N. body that provides objective, scientific reports on climate change issued a grave warning: Humans are running out of time if we are to prevent the worst impacts of global warming.

While the report took a global view, here in the Mountain State, scientists can already document the impacts of climate change. Many parts of the world are bracing for more extremes including and higher temperatures and more severe droughts, while the prognosis in West Virginia is more of a mixed bag.

New River Gorge
Dave Bieri / National Park Service

A new grant is expected to help hundreds of students experience nature’s classroom at the New River Gorge.

Adobe Stock

Westmoreland Coal Company, one of the oldest mining companies in the country, became the second major coal bankruptcy of the Trump presidency Tuesday when the company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a Texas court.

The company, which has a substantial presence in the Ohio Valley, has for years faced mounting difficulties as it continued to take on debt while many of the power plants that used its coal announced they intend to close or switch to cleaner fuels.

 

Photo courtesy of WVU

Watershed restoration group Friends of Deckers Creek has been awarded a $120,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to monitor water quality.

The Morgantown-based nonprofit received the grant to help improve the health and water quality of the nearly 25-mile-long tributary of the Monongahela River, according to a press release by EPA.


Office of the WV Governor, via Flickr

The Justice family companies’ difficulties paying taxes over the years are well documented. But tax collectors haven’t been the only ones trying to recover debts from companies once operated by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and now in control of his family.

Sprouting farms
Brittany Patterson / WVPB

This story is part of an episode of Inside Appalachia about projects aimed at spurring job growth in Appalachia.

On a recent Monday morning, as the rising sun burns off the low-hanging fog and fishermen haul in their morning catches from the Greenbrier River, at Sprouting Farms, the day is well underway.

Produce has been harvested and safely stored in a giant refrigerator. Employees are packaging cherry tomatoes into plastic clamshells, activities you might find at any of the farms that dot the Greenbrier Valley.

But while the daily tasks are handled at this production-scale vegetable farm, the crux of Sprouting Farms’ mission goes beyond the fields at hand.  

Courtesy of ACEEE

West Virginia is almost dead last in a nationwide ranking of energy efficiency policies released this week by the nonprofit American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

The Mountain State tied for 49th place in a ranking of energy efficiency policies nationwide, down from 47th last year. 

Ohio River near Huntington
JaGa / wikimedia commons

A multi-state commission charged with protecting the Ohio River decided Thursday to postpone a decision to dramatically alter pollution controls.

The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, or ORSANCO, has been considering a proposal that would reduce its oversight of water pollution control standards along the Ohio River. The proposal, called "option 2" would eliminate the body's water pollution control standards for industrial and municipal wastewater discharges into the river.

The West Virginia Supreme Court chamber
West Virginia Judiciary

This story was updated at 11:15 a.m. on 10/4/18

Lawyers representing a handful of Harrison County landowners in an upcoming case set to be heard by the West Virginia Supreme Court are asking Justice Jenkins to recuse himself.

In the motion filed Tuesday, attorneys for the landowners argue Jenkins should remove himself from an an upcoming appeals case because of a potential conflict of interest.

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